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Wheat - White Ink, Black Ink Album Cover

Wheat - White Ink, Black Ink

Reviewed by
8.9
Wheat - White Ink, Black Ink
Record Label: The Rebel Group
Release Date: July 21, 2009
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
For more than a decade, the Taunton, MA band Wheat has done very little wrong. The indie-rock band's debut effort, the Brian Deck-produced Medeiros, was widely acclaimed; its follow-up Hope and Adams, was even higher acclaimed; and its 2003 major-label effort Per Second Per Second Per Second...Every Second was universally lauded and even netted single "I Met a Girl," some radio airplay. After a fall from grace with the major label, Wheat refocused and released another solid effort, 2006's home-recorded, experimental offering Every Day I Said a Prayer For Kathy and Made A One Inch Square. So it's no surprise that the band's latest effort, White Ink, Black Ink features some of their finest work to date.

The disc opens with "H.O.T.T," a pace-setting pop number that finds singer Scott Levesque admitting, "Half of the time I feel I'm clever/And half of the time I just haven't a clue." Though it gets a bit repetitive in places, the lo-fi fuzz bristles and coasts, serving as a steady and rhythmic opener. The album kicks forward with the powerhouse lead single, "Changes Is," a sun-drenched rocker with a towering hook, layers of keys and a boisterous, can't-say-no charisma. Though grammatically awkward, "Changes Is," has an unshakable quality that's impossible to ignore and even harder to forget.

"My Warning Song" is a straight-up indie effort with fizzy sonic effects and layers of percussion that bumps along rather ordinarily but soars euphorically towards the end. If only all filler could sound this cheery. Beginning with a confident piano opening, "El Sincero," finds Levesque vigorous and full-throated as his vocals breeze along beside a steady undercurrent of inspired percussion and guitar. There's a brief 30-second period where the song lifts skyward before settling down and ending just past the three-minute mark.

From there, the duo somersaults into the brawny "Living 2 Die vs Dying 2 Live," a soaring pop anthem that features a cascade of sound and Levesque's finest vocal work to date. Written after the death of his father, "Living 2 Die," teems with an energy and precision that seems to bridge the connection between the corporeal and the temporal. Following on its heels is the Pet Sounds-esque "If Everything Falls Together," another tidal wave of sound that continues the duo's penchant for swells and crests as Levesque sings, "I don't wanna put pressure on you to have some fun."

As the disc moves into its second half, drummer Brendan Harney takes over the vocals for the next three, including the whimsical "Music is Drugs," the 40-second lamentation "Coke and Tanqueray," and the country-ish "Mountains," which bridges techno, folk and indie into an ambient swirl that's fragile, rickety and towards the very end, bubbly.

Levesque returns to the mic for the explosive "I Want Less," another big-throated blissful anthem that is symphonic and celebratory, while he sings, "One love is better than a million bucks." Though topping "Changes Is," and "Living 2 Die" is a tall order, "I Want Less," seems to do exactly that. When he concedes "If it's more you want, then you're out of luck," he pushes his vocal register to new heights and allows the music to stretch itself into a taut and exhilarating workout.

The disc ends with the nocturnal "Baby in the Way," a string-backed, Wilco-like offering that's warm, comfortable and sentimental. Much like the rest of the disc, it's brief and fleeting and ends too soon. Perhaps though that is the point. Recorded in just a few days, drummer Brendan Harney has admitted that the disc is "the quickest and most fun record we've ever made." While it meanders in the middle and feels a bit too underdeveloped at times, due mostly in large part to Harney's uninspired vocals, the end result is something worth cherishing.

Levesque's inherent ability to push a chorus and verse into overdrive is something that has carried this band forward since its inception, but the power and intensity he displays on this effort is something he hasn't done to date. That simple fact is what makes White Ink, Black Ink so memorable. While Every Day I Said A Prayer was a sterling disc, it was certainly a step down from the band's prior three efforts. A self-admitted exploration into improvisation, the disc appears to have been the exact tonic the band needed. White Ink, Black Ink finds the duo at their most interesting, most creative and most daring. Additionally, the songs are concise, well-written and shimmer with a newfound polish and confidence that's glorious, thrilling and highly affecting. If this disc doesn't turn some heads, then no disc will.

Wheat Is Scott Levesque: vocals/guitars
Brendan Harney: drums/keys/vocals


Track Listing01. H.O.T.T
02. Changes Is
03. My Warning Song
04. El Sincero
05. Living 2 Die vs. Dying 2 Live
06. If Everything Falls Together
07. Music Is Drugs
08. Coke and Tanqueray
09. Mountains
10. I Want Less
11. Baby In My Way


Recommended If You Like Nada Surf, The Spinto Band, Mason Proper, The Pernice Brothers


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Displaying posts 1 - 11 of 11
09:50 AM on 07/07/09
#2
JordanBuell
and sail belly up to the clouds
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outstanding band. outstanding cd. this review is right on the spot.
06:49 PM on 07/07/09
#3
fowruok
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I definitely have to check this out; I loved their last album.
02:26 AM on 07/08/09
#4
Ryzenfall
makin' good time
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No way, Wheat has new material?? This year is getting better by the minute.
02:05 PM on 07/08/09
#5
peterock
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garageband loops on this record...per seconds was good, this..no
02:27 PM on 07/08/09
#6
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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garageband loops on this record...per seconds was good, this..no
I won't discredit your opinion. To each their own. But you sir are insane.
03:43 PM on 07/08/09
#7
peterock
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I won't discredit your opinion. To each their own. But you sir are insane.
hahaha its all good, maybe i am! i really wanted to like it, but for some reason i just couldn't get past them resorting to garageband loops...it's frustrating cause they easily could have replaced the loops with their own and to me, it would have shown their creativity a lot better, and therefore i would have enjoyed it much more.
08:11 PM on 07/08/09
#8
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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hahaha its all good, maybe i am! i really wanted to like it, but for some reason i just couldn't get past them resorting to garageband loops...it's frustrating cause they easily could have replaced the loops with their own and to me, it would have shown their creativity a lot better, and therefore i would have enjoyed it much more.
I can't believe you're breaking this album down to just loops.
What about the huge choruses, what about Scott's huge vocals. He holds a note for at least 10 seconds, at least six different times. When the hell was the last time that happened?
I can understand being unhappy with the album thinning out in the middle, or the repetitiveness of some of the lyrics, but the Garageband loops aren't all over this album like they were on Everyday I Said a Prayer? Are you thinking of that album?
This album is chock full of hooks, guitar, piano and drums.

Confused!!!
08:58 AM on 07/09/09
#9
Travis Parno
my sensible heart
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definitely getting into this album. sadly the drummer sings like a drowned cat. first five tracks are a powerhouse though
09:07 AM on 07/09/09
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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definitely getting into this album. sadly the drummer sings like a drowned cat. first five tracks are a powerhouse though
Aug. 1 CD release show at the Great Scott with the XYZ Affair (another band I reviewed favorably back in March). Giddyup!
10:00 PM on 07/10/09
Alex DiVincenzo
www.alexislegend.com
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This band is from Taunton? Heard of them but never knew that. That's the city right next to my town. Fun fact.

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